Open main menu




From the nickname of the poet Ambrose Phillips, coined by Henry Carey in 1726. [1]


  • (file)


namby-pamby (comparative more namby-pamby or namby-pambier, superlative most namby-pamby or namby-pambiest)

  1. Insipid and sentimental.
  2. Lacking vigor or decisiveness; spineless; wishy-washy.



namby-pamby (plural namby-pambies)

  1. One who is insipid, sentimental, or weak.
    • 1725, Capt. Gordon [Henry Carey], Namby-Pamby: Or a Pangyric on the New Versification Addressed to A-- P-- Esq., OCLC 49006177:
      Namby Pamby’s doubly Mild, / Once a Man, and twice a Child; / To his Hanging-Sleeves restor’d / Now he foots it like a Lord; / Now he Pumps his little Wits; / Sh--ing Writes and Writing Sh--s,[sic]
  2. Talk or writing which is weakly sentimental or affectedly pretty.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Macaulay to this entry?)



namby-pamby (third-person singular simple present namby-pambies, present participle namby-pambying, simple past and past participle namby-pambied)

  1. To coddle.
    • 2012, Alan Tyers, Who Moved My Stilton?: The Victorian Guide to Getting Ahead in Business
      While we business men of Britain have little time for this sort of namby-pambying towards the next generation, who are often feckless, tearful, small, dirty or all of the above, there is no doubt that youths have their place in commerce.